Counting Down…

137 days left.

I have to get myself on some kind of plan, or I’m going to be quite disappointed when I reach age 50 in December. Right now, I weigh the most I have since right before my hysterectomy at age 38. Actually, if the scales are telling the truth (which, unfortunately, they usually are), I weigh more.

Ugh.

So, it’s time to get a game plan going here. I need an overhaul. A complete overhaul — mind, body, and spirit. That means, I’m going to have to get serious and focus, which is often hard to do because there are so many shiny, neat things out there to distract me from my purpose. And ice cream. And comfy couches. And exciting new projects.

This is going to be a challenge, and I’m going to need some support. And some ass-kicking. I’m going to have to make some decisions that require me to let go of some things I had wanted to take on as projects – it’s time to figure out which of those will best serve my goal… and which need to be packed away for another time.

I’m a bit unsettled about this but know it needs to be done. My life and my health in this next chapter of life depend on it.

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Besides, when December 10 rolls around, I want to be able to KICK… STRETCH…and KICK, just like Sally O’Malley. Hell, I might even buy myself an outfit and purse just like hers to wear that day.

She’s my heroine. I just love her so. 

 

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New Writing Project!

UK 50mph photoHere’s a new project I’m starting up soon. It’s all about the stories of those of us who have already turned the corner at the half-century mark… and those of us who are almost there.

Wanna know more?

Want to share your story?

Check out my other blog: “Finding Fifty Project”.

Peace… and Happy Thanksgiving!

How Flossie Got Her Groove Back

The first time I saw her, she was hiding in the corner.

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Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” I whispered with a chuckle, walking over to greet her. The bargain hunters passed by as I stood there, making introductions.

A conversation with a second-hand desk.

She was middle-aged – born sometime in the late 1950s — and you could tell that she’d been through some “stuff.” But she spoke to me, as if to say, “Honey, you and I are much alike. We could be good friends, and, oh, the stories we could tell.”

For several months, I had been looking for a writing desk – THE writing desk – but no matter how many times I had convinced myself that I had found the right one, my purchase was stopped short. I either couldn’t see myself spending the money or time to fix it up, or I simply couldn’t imagine spending hours of time seated at it, writing the story that popped into my head at 2 a.m. No, the desk had to fit. It had to be the encouraging friend that was able to coax me out of the mental and physical rut in which I’d found myself of late. We had to understand each other.

I didn’t quite have the funds needed to purchase her that day, and honestly, that was an easy excuse to bring an end to our visit – and prolong my unwillingness to take a chance that she could, perhaps, be the one to help me. I patted her gently, not caring if the other browsers were watching our intimate encounter, and said my goodbye. This was becoming a pattern. A frustrating one at that.

Over the next month, I thought of her often, wondering if she, like several others, had been scooped up by someone who was more comfortable taking risks than I was. Had she been put on the back of a truck and driven to a new home where she had been shined up, only to become the latest item up for bid on eBay? Why had she been abandoned in the first place? She was beautiful – a bit older but still full of grace and class, standing tall on sturdy legs. Did her owner not see her youthful glow, hidden under the years of dust and fading stain, or did he grow tired of her as the years passed? The more I pondered, the more I wished I could visit her again.

Several weeks later, I learned that the antique shop was scheduled to close. Maybe… just maybe… she was still there. I walked slowly down the row of empty dealer booths, and there she was.

“Hi, Flossie,” I said without hesitation. She looked like a Flossie to me – I would call her “Flo” for short. Kinda’ made sense, you know? It sounded like “flow,” which was what I desperately needed to find in my writing.

So, the guys rolled her out front and helped load her in the car.  She looked tired and had cobwebs wrapped around her dented and small, but sturdy, legs. “Don’t worry, Flossie. I’m going to fix you up just right,” I said as we made our way home. She responded with a creak as I rounded a curve.

I put her in the garage – this would be her home for the next few days as the transformation took place. Sanding and repainting furniture was something new to me, so I was a bit nervous about taking the first step. My father suggested an 80-grit sandpaper to remove the old stain and coating. Couldn’t help but chuckle as I put on the dust mask and goggles, grabbed the palm sander, and made the first pass. It felt like I was giving poor Flossie a much-needed facial, scrubbing away the dirt and grime of the day – or in this case – of nearly 60 years.

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After two days of heavy sanding, accompanied by a few beers, some uplifting music, and a few rather “unladylike” words (impatience is a weakness), she was smooth and natural. She was beautiful just as she was, and I was considering nothing more than a light stain to enhance her natural features, but I had this overwhelming feeling that she was trying to say something to me. So, I put my ear close to her and listened.

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“Make me bold. Make me flashy. I’m ready for people to take notice. I want to feel sexy. No more hiding behind this boring old stain that has covered me for all these years. It’s not me. I want to do something risky. Please help me.

It was in that moment that I knew what she needed.  Red paint.

The young lady at the paint store grinned and clapped with excitement as I told her what I was wanting to do. She had recently repainted a desk the same color. Picking out the right shade made me a bit anxious – what if it was too “this” or not enough “that?”  When she handed me the sample card, and pointed at the square in the middle with a huge grin, I knew we were on to something.  The paint sample’s name was “Showstopper.” Perfect.

Her first coat went on, and I felt a bit sick. It was a bright Pepto-Bismol pink. My heart sank. I felt as if I had let her down (and there was no way in hell that a pink desk would look good in the space I had chosen). Second coat, and I noticed a transformation beginning to take place.  The pink was changing to a deeper red, and the gloss of the paint was starting to enhance the beautiful curves of her drawer handles. She was becoming exactly what the paint said she would – a showstopper.

For a bit of whimsy, my husband suggested painting her “legs” black. It made sense – every sassy lady who wears a red dress needs a good pair of black heels to complete the look.

Four coats of paint later, and she was transformed. No longer was she an overlooked antique shoved in the corner. Flossie was now a shiny, “new” desk – and the inspiration I needed.

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Sometimes all we need is a good buffing down to our “real selves” to see our potential. It can be a tiring, risky, stressful, dirty process, but the end result can be transformative.

The two of us understand that. We are in for some good times together.

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On Vulnerability… and the “Short List”

I’ve gone back to reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, as I feel in need of a tremendous kick in the ass for the new year. Something to motivate me to head “confidently in the direction of my dreams.” I can’t remember right this moment who said that, but I like the way it sounds.

For the past few months, I’ve felt stifled in my professional life — the work I do is certainly important to the success of the organization, but it offers no feeling of personal satisfaction or a sense that I am doing something to serve/help others — and as a result, nurturing my Self. I’m the quintessential “caretaker.” Always have been and probably always will be, and the moments I feel the greatest joy are when I’ve helped someone to overcome an obstacle or discover his or her potential.

How ironic, then, that what I love to do for others… is so damned difficult to do for my Self? Why do I have such a problem with going in the direction of my dreams?

I’m afraid. Yep, that’s it. Plain and simple. I feel vulnerable.

The interesting thing in my reading is that Brené talks about vulnerability, not as a weakness, but as an act of courage. It’s that being able to put yourself out there, despite all the preconceived ideas of possible failure or inadequacy, and fighting the good fight, regardless of the outcome.

Me? Courageous? Hmmm…

As much as I’d like to pride myself on being independent (I believe it comes from having to grow up fast after mom died — I was only eleven when that journey began), I know that there are times when I’d like nothing more than to shed that “coat of armor” that has protected me through the last 37 years, roll over and expose my soul to the world and say, “Hey. I need your support here. Deep down inside, there is a creative, intelligent, organized woman who is looking for an opportunity to do something amazing with her life that makes a difference — for others but also for her Self as well.  Here I am, standing in the center of the arena, with no protection, for all the world to see, and I could sure as hell use some support and encouragement of my endeavors here.”

Now, THAT, my friends, takes courage.

Being vulnerable – in my case, having the courage to seek opportunities for soul-satisfying work — is a huge risk. It means putting my experiences out there on the résumé and job application for the world to see and hoping that someone will say, “She’s exactly the person we need! Let’s give her the opportunity!” It also means being ready to accept the fact that those people looking at my experiences may not feel I’m the right one for the job, and I shouldn’t take that as a sign that I’m incapable or not talented or that I need to stay right where I am and not look any more. That opportunity simply wasn’t the right one for me, and I need pick myself up, brush myself off, and, well… you know the rest.

Problem is, the feelings of inadequacy come bubbling to the surface of my little glass half full, as I start comparing myself to the other potential candidates, even before the application has been submitted. It’s that fear of failure — of not believing that I can do anything I put my mind to if I’d just get the hell out there and do it. Much of that inadequacy and doubt has been internalized, I believe, as a result of listening to a long list of people who, although they claimed to be in the arena with me, were actually up in the bleachers, hurling their opinions at me like rotten tomatoes.

“You wouldn’t enjoy doing that, would you?”
“Yeah, sure, it sounds interesting…but what does it pay?”
“Why would you want to do that? You’re good at what you do now.”
“Why would you want to leave this job? It pays well, and you have an important title?”

Vulnerability “True Confession” of the Day:  As much as I pride myself on being independent, I need someone there beside me in the arena, slapping me on the back, high-fiving me, and saying, “Go for it!” regardless of the outcome.

In one of her interviews on YouTube, Brené talks about having a “short list” of people whose opinions matter — those “battle buddies” who are there with you and for you while you take that bold, brave first step. The ones who don’t give up on you because you make mistakes or are even afraid to attempt to put yourself out there at all, for fear of making a mistake. They are the ones who love you,”not in spite of your vulnerabilities…but because of them.” The ones who know you’re on the verge of being bat-shit crazy, but they love and appreciate that about you. She keeps this list handy in her purse for those moments when feelings of doubt and inadequacy rear their ugly heads.

Watch her interview on “Chase Jarvis Live” here. It’s worth the hour-and-a-half, so pour yourself a glass of something and watch:

I have been thinking about my “short list” over the past few weeks, and it appears I’d be well-served to put it on a business card and keep it close by for handy reference. They are a select few, and although they are probably not aware of their placement on this list, I hold their friendship, support, encouragement… and occasional ass-kicking skills in very high regard. So, as I take these bold steps, I will look at my list and know that, while it’s up to me to make things happen, those whose opinions matter – those who stand beside me in the area, despite the outcome – are always there.

Who’s on your “short list?”